An Anonymous Platform Of Hate

I haven’t written a blog post for a while; I feel somewhat out of practice. Instead, I have been running repeats on this site. There are probably good reasons for that, but I am not sure what they are at the moment. I am sure of the justifications I have given myself: a sultry combination of half-truths and outright lies. Part of the reason has to be that I have not had anything to say for a while.

My favourite blogs, both to write and to read, come out of a burning desire to express an idea. I can feel the force of the idea coursing through my fingers as I type, and I have the sensation of being carried along by the momentum of what I am putting in to words. I’m not sure if I have had that pull for a while: I have just wanted to check out and get on with the domestic tasks at hand. I think.

The problem is that there has been a lot going on in the world, and I have wanted to talk about all of the interesting twists and turns of reality somehow. And in walks Twitter. I have been deliberately trying to Tweet more, and to Tweet less self-consciously. I see all of the waffle and the thrum of the sea of internet commentary, and I cannot dive in and join that. I embarrass myself far too easily.

I have known for a while that I hold myself to a different set of standards than I do other people. I do not understand why I do, but I do. I Tweet my actual views, after dark, watching TV, having a glass of beer; in the morning I am aghast at my temerity for exposing myself in such a way. Yet, if it had been daylight, I had been listening to some music, and drinking a cup of coffee I would accept it as fine.

I have recently, therefore, taken the plunge in to allowing myself to Tweet in the evenings, and to not feel the pangs of self-loathing which my waking mind associates with such things. On my way to bed last night, for instance, I Tweeted my disdain for the treatment of a female environmental campaigner who was dragged out of an event by her neck. On the down side, I was slightly drunk, so I did it twice, forgetting that I had already done so. There is no such thing as too much support.

I have set myself some rules on how I Tweet, and it has taken me quite some time to make them stick in my mind. Contrary to the existing maelstrom of public opinion, I only want to use Twitter to promote positivity. It is not an anonymous platform of hate: we need to work together to do that.

I see media reports of Twitter storms, but I am never around to witness them. I do, of course, see the witless comments made by people on the Tweets of people whom they hate. I shake my head at the urge to condemn people on social media. I would, instead, like to correct the grammar of many people I see, but that is a common compulsion. Also, I get told off for it far too frequently.

There are a few topics guaranteed to provoke a Twitter storm: one is being female; another is the belief in hope; yet another is having the temerity to express one’s views. There are others, and they are all equally nonsensical. I can imagine, for instance, that people have received sustained attacks on Twitter for being either Black or Jewish. I cannot wrap my noodle around that concept one bit.

I cannot bring myself to being part of a wave of people which piles on to a person with messages of opprobrium. I cannot condone a culture where the prevailing opinion is one of hate, derision or abject contempt. It is not that I don’t feel passionately enough to find things hateful or derisive: I want to burn the whole world down. I just object to it being the base currency of modern discourse.

I started off by trying to pump positivity in to things: I would look out for people being subjected to torrents of Twitter abuse, and I would Tweet them my support, or just a message of kindness. Yeah, that was never going to be sustainable: put simply, I couldn’t be arsed to keep it up. That kept me off Twitter for a while, because I was so annoyed at my failure to live up to my self-imposed standards.

It took a long while for me to realise what I needed to do, and it took Instagram to show me the way.

I set up an Instagram account in order to build up a picture library for this blog. That isn’t what it’s there for: it’s there for showing off about holidays and meals and the interesting images we see throughout our day; it’s there to justify always having top end digital cameras with us all the time.

I found myself scrolling through endless shots of beautiful things on Instagram, and liking a huge number of them. I was in full on questioning-my-intentions mode as far as my relationship with all forms of social media was concerned, but liking things felt acceptable. I wasn’t doing anything to dislike the things which I didn’t like; I was only liking the things which I did. That’s a precedent.

I started liking more things on Twitter; I then started finding more things on Twitter to like. Liking things was good, but sometimes you want to interact. And I dipped my toe in gently, a couple of “I agree” Tweets here and there. It felt good. I needed to navigate the waters of condescension, what with me being a straight white man, but I trod a gentle path. I was warming up to Twitter, it seems.

During all of this I had discovered that a lot of my news needs were being met by following political journalists, who Tweet like crazy. I was feeling better informed, and so better placed to take part in the whirlpool of internet comment. I was seeing news as it happened through the eyes of people I had curated in to my own personal news room. I was witnessing people sharing positive messages about things which excited them. It enthused me greatly. I had to dive in and share my world too.

And that is where you find me. I am fully bored of Facebook at the moment, it being flooded with videos of people making things out of epoxy. I am in deep thrall to Twitter, and, as long as I am on the path of civility and positivity, I think I might get quite a bit out of this little chatterbox yet.

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